NEW YORK: Retailers like Gap and Target are adopting the mindset of publishing companies as they seek to engage consumers with content marketing.

Gap, the apparel group, has a "lo-fi" approach to creating content, which is developed especially for social media services that are frequently accessed via mobile devices, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vine.

It can now produce material in real time, and so respond to the latest hot topics. To date, this output has registered engagement scores 70% higher than its traditional forms of advertising.

"The internet requires every brand, business and individual to become a publisher," Rachel Tipograph, Gap's director of global digital and social media, told Digiday. "Content is the currency within our social web."

Target, the general merchandise retailer, launched a website, called "A Bullseye View", to provide shoppers with a "behind-the-scenes" insight into the firm, as well as features on subjects like entertainment and design.

"We're putting it out there so people can consume it," said Dustee Jenkins, vp of PR for Target. "We're generating brand love by putting out content and giving people the ability to tell friends."

Target's PR team have editorial meetings each day to plan ahead, alongside holding weekly consultations with GroupJSP, the agency responsible for developing this material.

"We're a publicly-traded business, but we know one of the ways we drive sales is through loyalty," said Jenkins. "When you think about A Bullseye View, it would be short-sighted to think about revenue. It's more about building meaningful relationships with our customers."

The impetus behind these moves is primarily based on the shifting habits of consumers, which have prompted companies to adjust their strategies.

"Customers have changed the way they shop," said Imran Jooma, executive vice president of marketing, online and financial services at Sears. "As retailers, we must change the way we sell."

Overstock, the ecommerce retailer, has also found that measuring the impact of digital content on the bottom line remains "murky", according to Stormy Simon, its co-president.

"Someone could be standing in line going through their Facebook on their phone, and they get an impression of Overstock and go home and make the purchase, but it's hard to connect those touchpoints," she said. "On Pinterest, folks will pin an Overstock product and our images do well there - is that a boost in sales? Potentially."

Data sourced from Digiday; additional content by Warc staff